Army, Shehla Rashid Lock Horns Over 'Torture' Charge

While the Army rejected her two specific claims as "baseless," the activist said she has "details" about the incidents mentioned, which she would be willing to share if the Army were to "conduct an impartial investigation."

New Delhi: Terming them ‘baseless,’ the Indian Army on Sunday rejected two specific claims made by activist and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement leader Shehla Rashid on the ground situation in Kashmir, ANI reported.

These were among the ten allegations levelled by Rashid in a series of tweets – based on “things that people coming from Kashmir say about the situation.

Rashid, meanwhile, told The Wire that she has had “detailed conversations with people about the situation there” and is willing to share “details” about the incidents she has mentioned with the Army if it were to “conduct an impartial investigation.”

The activist tweeted on Sunday that the armed forces were “entering houses at night, picking up boys, ransacking houses, deliberately spilling rations on the floor, mixing oil with rice..”

Further, she wrote that in Shopian, four men were “called into the Army camp and “interrogated” (tortured). A mic was kept close to them so that the entire area could hear them scream, and be terrorised.”

Shehla Rashid. Photo: PTI/Files

This, she wrote, “created an environment of fear in the entire area.”

According to ANI, the Indian Army said the allegations were “baseless and rejected,” and that “unverified” and “fake news” was being “spread by inimical elements and organisations to incite unsuspecting population.”

So far, however, neither the Army nor the government has questioned the contents of the remaining tweets in her thread.

Also read | Across Kashmiri Villages, Talk of ‘Oppression, Excess, Betrayal’: Fact-Finding Team

Rashid told The Wire: “Let the Indian Army conduct an impartial investigation. I’ll be happy to share details with them. My thread is quite balanced. I’ve pointed out the positive work of the administration too. All the ten points are based on conversations with people.”

“In the absence of internet, phones and media including newspapers, there are gross human rights violations occurring in Kashmir right now which are invisible to the world. There is an AFP report that suggests that 4,000 to 6,000 people have been arrested. Obviously, these are not voluntary arrests. People have been dragged from their homes, tortured and arrested. If the government has nothing to hide from the world, why impose a communication ban?” she added.

Ever since the Union government decided to read down Article 370 and split Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on August 5, officials and a section of the Indian media have consistently been claiming that the situation is largely calm in the state.

A fact-finding team of four civil liberties activists – Jean Dreze, Kavita Krishnan, Maimoona Mollah and Vimal Bhai – who travelled across the Kashmir Valley, however, said last week that the whole of Kashmir is full of “anger and anguish” as they feel betrayed by the Union government’s decision.

They said that young boys were being “abducted” by the security personnel for no fault of theirs.

“People are living in fear of harassment from the government, army, or police. They expressed their anger freely in informal conversation but no one was willing to speak on camera,” a press release issued by the team said.

Meanwhile, authorities reimposed restrictions on movement in major parts of Srinagar on Sunday after violent overnight clashes between residents and the police. Dozens are said to have been injured in the clashes.

Telephone landlines were restored in parts of the city on Saturday after a 12-day blackout and the state government said most telephone exchanges in the region would start working by Sunday evening. Internet and cell phones remain blocked in Kashmir.